Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tennis championship in the world, begins this year on June 29 and ends on July 12. The London-based event takes place on grass — the only Grand Slam event to do so. Both the Australian Open and the US Open are hardcourt events; Roland Garros (the French Open) occurs on clay. The Wimbledon draw consists of 128 men and and 128 women in the singles events, as well as 64 men’s and women’s doubles teams each. Ashleigh Barty and Novak Djokovic (above) are the top seeds, but get set for plenty of surprises at the All England Club.
Wimbledon quirks: Strict fashion rules require all players to wear white — and players do not compete on the “middle Sunday” of the event (July 5 this year).
Wimbledon first took place in 1877.
The first Wimbledon tournament
Gentlemen's singles is the only event held. Spencer Gore prevails from a field of 22 athletes — with a mere 200 spectators present at the finals.
Women join the club
Seven years after its inception, Wimbledon includes a Ladies' Singles tournament. Gentlemen's Doubles is also added.
Ball girls, too
Prior to this, Wimbledon used only ball boys chosen from a particular school. Today both boys and girls are selected — and come from a wide array of local schools. They may serve up to five times if chosen.
To protect players and fans from rain and/or excessive heat during the Championships, the roof is installed and takes roughly 20 minutes to close. The roof sees action on the first day of the 2009 tournament.
Roger Federer breaks a record
Federer, arguably the best men's tennis player ever, picks up his eighth Gentlemen's Singles title. He'll go for number nine this summer.
Strawberries and cream
A traditional treat of The Championship, fans consume nearly 75,000 pounds of strawberries each year. Don't go that crazy, but a couple pints of strawberries (and cream) are a nice summer treat anyway.
Outdoor viewing party
Tennis action will be pretty consistent for two full weeks. Set up an outdoor screen, fire up the BBQ and relax while others show off their athletic prowess.
Take a tennis lesson
This sport isn't nearly as easy as it looks. There's a reason some players grunt with every shot. Put on your brave face — and lots of sunscreen — and head down to the local courts to try your (back)hand.
Use These 5 Tennis Facts To Impress Your Friends During Wimbledon
Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs
Ms. King did wonders for the world of women's athletics when she beat Riggs, who declared he could beat any female tennis player back in 1973.
John McEnroe's meltdowns
It's hard to pick just one. McEnroe's short temper has earned him ten fines over his career. Still, they're fun to watch.
American tennis champions Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors called off their storybook engagement in the mid '70s. Nearly 40 years passed before either one of them publicly addressed the breakup.
Serena vs. Venus
The Williams sister have faced off 30 times in professional tournaments, with Serena leading the head-to-head 18-12.
Wimbledon hosts longest match ever
Stretching over three days in 2010, American John Isner defeated France's Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in a match lasting over 11 hours.
Why We Love Wimbledon
We love sports
Americans love a little friendly competition. We enjoy all sports, from darts to hockey and everything in between. Cheering on our favorite athletes always makes for a good time.
It gives us something to talk about
As civilized a sport as tennis is, there's always an unexpected story. From occasional player outbursts to the off-court hookups, tennis may not be as polite as we've been led to think.
Everything is better in the summer
Wimbledon is summertime's most prestigious sporting event. And the two-week event always occurs around July 4 — giving American tennis fans an extra day off to watch.